Monday, January 7, 2013

I could have been an Olympian

 Paris Summer Olympics - 1900JOParis 1900.jpg

Those of you who know me, know that I'm not terribly athletic, although like most people, I do enjoy watching the Olympics.  I don't typically care who wins, but I very much enjoy watching these extremely talented people compete against other extremely talented people.

Those of you who know me, also know that I was not around for the Summer Olympics of 1900.  And until quite recently, I'd really not given those games much thought.  Scratch that, I'd not given those games any thought.

But I recently came across some stories that seemed too bizarre to be true.. I did some googling, and ...  Well, I just have to share this with you.   Trust me, as best as I've been able to confirm, from multiple sources....  what follows is true.

The first Olympics, were held in 1896.  The second Olympics were held 4 years later, in 1900, in Paris.  1900 was also the year of the World's Fair, in Paris, and the two events were kind of combined.  The events took place over the course of 5 1/2 months, from mid May, through October.  Apparently, when the French heard 'summer olympics', they thought it meant the Olympic games would last throughout the entire summer!

There were track and field events, and swimming events, as well as gymnastics, wrestling and fencing, and a whole host of other events that we still see today.   However, there were also a number of events that we do not see today -- as you might guess, it is the discontinued events that have caught my eye, and tickled my funny bone.   In all fairness, many of the events I find amusing, have now been determined by the IOC to be unofficial events, but that only detracts minimally, from the amusement factor.

However, before I move on to the unofficial events, I don't want to leave out that Tug of War, was an official Olympic event, at the 1900 Olympics.  Wait, it gets better.  One of the six man teams, consisted of athletes from two different countries, one of the teams was disqualified because three of their athletes were entered in another competition that took place at the same time, and one of the teams included a journalist who was asked to fill in at the last moment, for someone who got sick!
Tug of war
Now -  I'm stubborn, and I've been told I can be a bit of a bulldog at times -  and while I'm not athletic, I could certainly hold my own against a journalist.   I feel certain that I could be a contender, in a  game of tug of war.  If not for the fact that I was born a few years too late.. I could have been an Olympian!

But wait, it gets better.

Other sports that took place at the 1900 Olympics that I would most certainly have had a chance at, included angling  (that's fishing, for those of you who are landlubbers), cannon shooting  (don't you just light a fuse?), ballooning (I love balloons!), and kite flying (I love kite flying, even more than I love balloons!!).

Unfortunately, none of these events catching my fancy, are part of today's Olympic events.... and I'm not very good at the events that are part of today's Olympics.  But, as I sit here sipping my tea, I respectfully suggest that the reason I'm not an Olympian, is merely that I was born at the wrong time.  And notwithstanding the notions of H. G. Wells, Mark Twain, et al, I seem to be stuck in the present.  So, until they make tea sipping an Olympic event, I'll just sit and watch, knowing that - if circumstances had just been a bit different, I could have been an Olympian!


  1. A great post! Thanks for the history lesson! Very interesting! I think there are probably quite a few of us who might have qualified for the Olympic Games, back in 1900!

  2. LOL, you're a nut. A nice one but a nut.

    I believe there is more to firing a canon than just lighting a fuse. I think you actually have to load it properly or it explodes before you're read. Also, I believe aiming is extremely important as it could quickly reduce the number of folks in the audience.

    And we have to keep in mind that people were actually more fun before endorsements. Life was simpler and things considered real entertainment was participant activities, not idol worship.

    Loved this post, Laurie!

  3. Funny and nostalgic. Sounds like they had a lot more fun in 1900 ...

    Do you think if we put together a petition they'd include fly tying?

  4. Well, I'm a bit late to post in here, but I thought you ought to be aware of the Midlands claim to the modern Olympics.
    Wenlock Olympian Society

    The Society was formed by Dr William Penny Brookes in 1860, ten years after the first Wenlock Olympian Games. The Games were originaly designed "to promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the Town and neighbourhood of Wenlock".